A number of local women deserve to be remembered, but Mona is unique in that she was not
engaged in doing something she loved, such as a career or philanthropy. She put her life on
the line to oppose injustice, and to help the war effort in the only way open to her, living as
she was in Occupied Holland. The statue captures her at a moment described in a letter to
her father and stepmother, written between May 3 and 5, 1945, particularly the last line of
the letter, which is excerpted here. As you read, you may be aware she expresses symptoms
of what we now recognize as PTSD:
"May 3, 1945... Prison was a hard, nasty, cold, hungry & demoralizing life. We were always
associating with criminals. That never should have been. Political prisoners should have been
kept apart. The first year I was ill a lot, weighed only about 94 pounds & was green – night
sweats, coughing & diarrhoea every day for 3 ½ months & often vomiting. Tears have run
down my cheeks for hunger. When the diarrhoea got better I was given a pint of soup extra –
made from turnip & potato peelings... There were no medicines to be had. We slept four in a
tiny cell built for one. In all the years of imprisonment I slept always on a straw sack on the
floor... I was in solitary once for two weeks, for writing a letter in English.... Practically 4
years of isolation.
During my first contact with people – after throwing off my half-witted act – I felt only half
conscious of all that went on about me. My body was shaky – my brain seemed quite numb –
thoroughly incapable of absorbing what was said to me. My head spun. It just seemed too
much, all of a sudden. We’d had literally no brain stimulation all these years.... But now all
that’s finished. Now there’s so much to do, to read, to hear, to learn. One wishes every day
were 48 hours. I’m feverishly trying to catch up on the overwhelmingly great number of
events of these last – to me – quite wasted years. My brain is a veritable whirly-gig. For the
last three days I’ve felt quite rested & normal. The reaction to all I’d been through had given
me the jitters & my renewed contact with civilization had disarmed me in a way I had never
believed possible. I’ve got to get used to life again & normal people. It’s all very strange....
May 5, 1945. Holland has capitulated – thrills & heartthrobs! I can scarcely believe it! Today
I’m going to try to arrange transport back home. What heaven to be there again. How
sweepingly & rapidly everything has gone this week. The joy is almost too much to bear!"
An unlikely war hero, Mona Parsons was
sentenced to a Nazi prison camp for
helping dozens of downed Allied airmen
escape (courtesy Andria Hill).
Mona Parsons Sentenced to Death
A number of local women deserve to be
remembered, but Mona is unique.....